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Opinion

ISIS: Return of the Crusaders and the black flags

Catherine Shakdam

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The rise of the takfiris with their black flags, loose hair and propensity for barbaric acts had been predicted in Islamic history. The Crusaders are using them today in their quest to re-occupy the Middle East.

The Muslim East finds itself in the throes of multiple wars. They have pitted brothers against each other over religious rhetoric and ideology. It looks as if the entire region has reverted back to the time of butchery and bloodshed. The dictum “might is right” prevails and the sword speaks louder than reason.

“Those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it,” warned the British political philosopher Edmund Burke (died, 1797). Indeed, while politicians, analysts and world leaders attempt to rationalize ISIS’ (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) ideology of terror in a desperate attempt to understand its inherent pathology and thus block its advance, only by looking back at Islamic history can one begin to understand how such evil arose in the first place.

It is crucial to understand that while ISIS might claim to be from within Islam, its very expression, its literalist and myopic understanding of the scripture and Islamic values are anything but Islamic.

Muslims scholars of all schools of thought and inclination, whether Shi‘i or Sunni, have all agreed and proclaimed their complete and utter rejection of ISIS. A religious aberration, ISIS is but the by-product of Wahhabi propaganda, a weapon devised by Saudi Arabia to bring the Muslim East under its heel.

The rise of ISIS has been traced back to Saudi Arabia and its own prince of darkness, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the brain behind the ISIS terror machine. It was Professor James Petras, from Binghamton University in New York State who first spoke about Bandar. Most recently he noted in an interview with PressTV, “As we collect data on the origins of these groups and the financing, we have come to the conclusion that Bandar bin Sultan has been the mastermind and principal financier of these operations.”

But if we know now the origins of ISIS we are no closer to understanding where its darkness stems from and how it came to swell as it did over the past three years. This terror wave threatens to swallow us whole.

It is crucial to understand that while ISIS might claim to be from within Islam, its very expression, its literalist and myopic understanding of the scripture and Islamic values are anything but Islamic.

Historical parallels

Back in an interview with Marwa Osman on Etijah TV — an Iraqi TV channel based in Lebanon — Dr. Alk Kairouz referred to Mu‘awiyah, founder of the Umayyad dynasty in the seventh century when looking for a historical reference to ISIS, pointing to striking similarities between the two.

Looking at ISIS’ rapacious campaigns and the group’s penchant for horrific bloodshed and display of sickening cruelties, Dr. Kairouz noted. “Looking at ISIS and how its leadership envisions war as a base upon which its ideology will be disseminated to the region and ultimately the world, it is clear that the group has drawn its inspiration from Mu‘awiyah… the same patterns of violence, the same blind desire to impose one’s faith over unwilling communities, the same exclusive ideology and ascetic interpretation of the Islamic Scriptures, the same hegemonic ambitions.”

Dr. Kairouz keenly added that ISIS had even mapped out its military advances on that of Mu‘awiyah, as if the terror group sought to emulate the historical figure that subverted the venerable institution of the khilafah into mulukiyah.

“Looking at ISIS and how its leadership envisions war as a base upon which its ideology will be disseminated to the region and ultimately the world, it is clear that the group has drawn its inspiration from Mu‘awiyah… the same patterns of violence, the same blind desire to impose one’s faith over unwilling communities, the same exclusive ideology and ascetic interpretation of the Islamic Scriptures, the same hegemonic ambitions.”

The second son of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb and Hind bint ‘Utbah, both were virulent detractors and enemies virtually until the very end of Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) mission. Mu‘awiyah converted to Islam just two years before the Prophet (pbuh) left this earthly abode. He quickly rose to prominence after he demonstrated excellent military and administrative skills during the leadership tenures of ‘Umar and ‘Uthman (ra), the second and third khalifahs respectively.

A controversial figure, both Sunni and Shi‘i Muslims have a very different perspective when it comes to Mu‘awiyah and the subsequent rise of the Umayyad dynasty over Ahl al-Bayt, the Household of the Prophet (pbuh). Abhorred by Shi‘is for not only defying Imam Ali’s (ra) order but also crossing swords against his brothers in faith, even though such acts had been condemned and denounced by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, Mu‘awiyah is viewed by most scholars — Shi‘i and Sunni — as an impostor. He chose to misinterpret Islam’s scriptures to serve his hegemonic ambitions, using Islam as a tribal instrument to support his conquests and justify bloodshed.

It was actually under Mu‘awiyah’s influence that Muslims strayed away from the Covenant of Madinah, the first written constitution in the world promulgated by the noble Messenger (pbuh) when he arrived in Madinah. The charter specified the state’s responsibilities toward citizens and the latter’s rights and responsibilities toward the state and legitimately established authority.

Under the constitution, the foundational document of the original Islamic State, religious freedom was guaranteed, women were not to be harmed, enslaved or otherwise abused, civilians’ rights were guaranteed and non-Muslims were given equal rights to that of Muslims provided they did not commit treason or attempt to disrupt the new social order.

The black flags army

The Yemeni scholar ‘Abd al-Karim al-Sharjabi told the Crescent International in exclusive comments that while many Muslims did not yet dare utter out loud the warnings of our Prophet (pbuh) when referring to ISIS’ black flags and its hordes, the writing was nevertheless on the wall. “We have reached a point in our history where it has become impossible to look at ISIS and where it operates while denying the possibility those men are the very evil Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) warned us about.”

Al Sharjabi stressed that Muslims have reached a defining moment in their history as terror threatens to lay waste their world; everyone would have to decide where his true loyalty lies. “Just as Mu‘awiyah rose against his khalifah, Imam Ali (ra), for he believed to be more entitled to leadership than the man Muslims pledged their allegiance to, Muslims today will have to choose a side, with or against ISIS,” stressed al-Sharjabi.

He added, “It is actually interesting to see that Islam’s break, this schism between Sunni and Shi‘ah that Islam experienced as a result of Mu‘awiyah’s corruption of the meaning of Islamic leadership has almost come full circle. ISIS’ archenemy is after all Shi‘i Islam… as if the group has returned from the pages of history to finish what the impostor could not. ISIS could actually be the spark that re-unites Islam and forces former foes to realize that their feud brought only enmity where there should have been brotherhood.”

More striking yet than historical parallels and analogies is one particular text from Kitab al-Fitan (The Book of Tribulations), a compilation of hadiths (a written rendition of the Sunnah) relating to the end of times put together by prominent scholar Nuyam bin Hammad in 229ah. In it Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) reportedly said, “If you see the black flags, then hold your ground and do not move your hands or your feet. A people will come forth who are weak and have no capability, their hearts are like blocks of iron. They are the people of the State (literally the people of al-Dawlah), they do not keep a promise or a treaty. They call to the truth but they are not its people. Their names are (nicknames like Abu Mohammed) and their last names (are the names of town and cities, like al-Halabi, [and now al-Baghdadi]) and their hair is loose like women’s hair. [Leave them] until they fight among themselves, then Allah will bring the truth from whoever He wills.”

With this in mind could it not be that ISIS is the very fitnah (affliction and sedition) Muslims were foretold would befall the world before new leadership can be restored?


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Article from

Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 9

Muharram 08, 14362014-11-01


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